Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

Toronto Blue Jays trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Blue Jays Sign Dayan Viciedo

SUNDAY, 3:45: If Viciedo fails to make the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster and winds up at Triple-A Buffalo, he will receive $20K per month, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

9:29am: There are no incentives in Viciedo’s deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).

9:18am: Viciedo will make $2.5MM if he reaches the big league roster, according to John Lott of the National Post (on Twitter).

8:02am: The Blue Jays confirmed the signing via press release.

SATURDAY, 7:16pm: The Blue Jays have signed outfielder Dayan Viciedo, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). It is a minor league deal per Rosenthal (also Twitter). Viciedo, a career .254/.298/.424 hitter, was released by the White Sox earlier this winter. Chicago is still on the hook for 30 days termination pay on the $4.4MM owed him via arbitration. Rosenthal confirms that payment is separate from the Blue Jays’ agreement.

With trade acquisition Michael Saunders expected to miss five to six weeks, Viciedo could help to provide outfield depth. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets that the Jays will look to use Viciedo at left field, third base, and first base. He has limited major league experience at either infield position.

Viciedo is known for his power. He’s twice hit at least 20 home runs, and he’s reached that figure twice in the minors too. He’s best against southpaw pitchers with a career .291/.331/.507 line. Advanced metrics and scouting reports dislike his defensive skills, making him a better fit as a platoon designated hitter. If he makes the roster, Toronto can control Viciedo through the 2017 season.


AL East Notes: Miller, Craig, Victorino

David Ortiz told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s extremely excited to have Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in the Red Sox’s lineup alongside healthy versions of Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, and Mike Napoli. “It’s going to make a huge difference.” Ortiz said. “Last year we had the big struggle with injuries. Pedroia struggled with injuries. Nap struggled with injuries. Even myself toward the end, I had a wrist problem. When you have pretty much the center of the lineup going through all those injuries, it’s hard to recover from the struggles we had offensively last year. Hopefully that’s not the case now. Everyone is healthy now. And you’ve got more thunder coming into the lineup.”  Here’s more from the AL East..

  • Andrew Miller turned down a four-year, $40MM deal from the Astros to join the Yankees on a four-year, $36MM this offseason, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  While he believed that the Astros are headed in the right direction, he thought it would take them time to realize their goals.  Miller also told Cafardo that the rival Red Sox made an excellent offer, but the Yankees’ situation was just too good for him to pass up.  It’s believed that the Red Sox topped out at $32MM over four years.  Miller recently spoke with MLBTR’s Jeff Todd about his free agent journey.
  • The Angels will turn to Matt Joyce in the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s issues, but Cafardo wonders if they could call the Red Sox about Allen Craig or Shane Victorino.  He also posits that the Blue Jays could have interest in talking with Boston after Michael Saunders‘ injury.
  • The Rays made the right move in releasing thrice-suspended 2010 No. 1 draft pick OF Josh Sale before he anything else went wrong, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.  Sale has run into a litany of problems over the last few years, including two suspensions imposed by MLB and one from the Rays.  Of course, it also didn’t help that he had yet to play above Class A in five pro years.
  • No one is expecting Johan Santana to revert back to his prime form, but scouts see the Blue Jays signing him as a smart, low-risk move, Cafardo writes.  “He obviously isn’t the Santana of old, but I’m not sure there is a more competitive pitcher in the game, and he’s learned to pitch with less,” said one National League scout.

AL East Notes: Moncada, Beckham, Duquette

The $31.5MM bonus the Red Sox will reportedly pay Yoan Moncada has generated a variety of reactions from players around the league, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Moncada’s bonus is well beyond what most other 19-year-old prospects might be able to make, since he was able to negotiate with all 30 teams. “It’s not right that a Cuban 19-year-old gets paid [$31.5 million] and the best 19-year-old in the entire USA gets probably 1/6 of that,” wrote Rays pitcher Drew Smyly. “Everyone should have to go through the same process.” An international draft would help standardize the system by which amateurs sign with teams, and new commissioner Rob Manfred seems to favor discussing it in the next round of CBA negotiations. Abraham polls Red Sox players about an international draft, leading to a large range of answers. Here’s Jackie Bradley Jr.’s: “I would have loved to be a free agent in college and made the best deal I could. Maybe I should have moved out of the country. If everybody was a free agent, you’d get what your real value is.” Here are more notes from the AL East.

  • More than six years after being selected first overall in the 2008 draft, shortstop Tim Beckham is competing for a big-league job in Rays camp for the first time, Marc Topkin writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). With Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar now gone, the Rays now have more space in their middle infield. Asdrubal Cabrera will take one of the middle infield starting jobs, but Topkin suggests Beckham could be a reserve infielder or even a starter, particularly if the team decides it would be best if Cabrera played second base. Beckham, now 25, moved slowly through the minors and finally made his big-league debut in 2013 before missing most of last season due to a knee injury.
  • The Blue Jays‘ pursuit of executive Dan Duquette was serious, but Duquette is back to work with the Orioles, writes MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. Duquette confirms that he could not leave the Orioles for Toronto because the two teams could not agree on a compensation package for him. This offseason, the Orioles made few big moves of their own and lost Nelson Cruz, Andrew Miller and Nick Markakis, although Duquette points out that the O’s should benefit from full seasons from Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis.


Michael Saunders To Miss 5-6 Weeks After Knee Surgery

TODAY: Toronto announced that Saunders is only expected to be out five to six weeks after undergoing his procedure. The timetable moved up because the cartilage could only be removed, not replaced, Anthopoulos told reporters, including John Lott of the National Post (Twitter links). While that could lead to some longer-term knee troubles for Saunders, it will allow him to return to action much sooner.

YESTERDAY: Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders will miss approximately the first half of the season after tearing his meniscus, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Saunders was acquired for pitcher J.A. Happ over the offseason.

The news represents a disappointing start to camp for a club that had built plenty of positive momentum over the offseason. Saunders had seemed a solid replacement for outgoing free agent Melky Cabrera. He may yet be, but the club will have to wait for the summer to find out.

GM Alex Anthopoulos says that the club will give its internal options a chance initially to fill the void.  At present, Davidi notes, the group in camp includes just three members of the 40-man (Jose Bautista, Dalton Pompey, and Kevin Pillar) along with non-roster invitees Ezequiel Carrera, Chris Dickerson, and Caleb Gindl. (Twitter links.)

Of course, Toronto will undoubtedly look hard at what is available via trade over the course of the spring. The group that it had compiled was already lacking somewhat in depth, making some kind of addition seem reasonably likely. But Anthopoulos will surely be in no rush, and could also look to work the waiver wire for a solution.


Blue Jays, Athletics Talking With Dayan Viciedo

6:11pm: With Saunders now expected to return much sooner than had been anticipated, the Jays’ impetus to add Viciedo seems to have diminished significantly. Indeed, GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated that the team will likely stick with its internal options, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes.

5:16pm: The Blue Jays and Athletics are among the clubs who are in active talks with free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Previous reports have suggested varying levels of interest from the Indians and Reds.

Viciedo has never reached the performance levels that had once been hoped for, but remains an interesting talent at just 26 years of age. With power to spare and outstanding numbers against lefties, Viciedo has struggled to play serviceable defense and reach base against right-handed pitching. He also can be controlled through 2017 via arbitration.

Toronto is potentially in the market for at least a temporary fix in the corner outfield after losing Michael Saunders for the first half of the season. Though a left-handed bat would probably be the better fit for a right-leaning lineup, pickings are obviously rather slim at this juncture.

As for Oakland, Viciedo would not only make potential sense as a right-handed bench bat/reserve first baseman, but could challenge for a larger role in the corner outfield. The team’s candidates to provide right-handed pop (Nate Freiman and Rule 5 pick Mark Canha) are hardly certainties. And, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, left field is not locked down for Oakland, with slick defenders Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry each coming off of rough campaigns at the plate.


Blue Jays Sign Johan Santana To Minors Deal

FRIDAY: Santana will receive a $2.5MM base salary if he’s in the big leagues, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (Twitter links). The deal also includes $2.05MM in incentives for games started (up to 25) as well as $2MM in roster bonuses. He has an April 28 opt-out date, and it’s not likely he’ll be ready by Opening Day, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

THURSDAY: The Blue Jays have signed veteran left-hander Johan Santana to a minor league contract with an invitation to their big league Spring Training camp, according to a team press release.  Santana is represented by Peter Greenberg of the Legacy Agency.

Santana hasn’t pitched in either the majors or minors since 2012, as he has been sidelined by both left shoulder capsule surgery (his second such procedure in three years) and, most recently, a torn Achilles tendon last June while on a minor league deal with the Orioles.  Santana returned to make some appearances in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason and drew interest from multiple teams, including the Padres and Yankees, though his Venezuelan outings were limited by shoulder soreness.

Given his checkered injury history and the fact that Santana turns 36 in March, it’s hard to see this as anything more than a depth signing for Toronto.  It’s worth noting, however, that the last time Santana was healthy (the first few months of the 2012 season), he still gave the Mets several quality starts, including a no-hitter.

The Jays’ rotation depth was thinned by a few offseason trades, leaving rookie top prospect Daniel Norris as the projected fifth starter behind Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman and Drew HutchisonAaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada are likely the two top backup options should Norris struggle, though since the Jays are aiming to have both pitchers in the bullpen, a veteran option like Santana could come in handy.  The Jays have been looking for relief pitching depth as well, though according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link), Santana is being looked at by the team as a starter.


Quick Hits: Draft Pools, Street, Viciedo, Melky

Major League Baseball has let teams know the bonus pool values for the 2015 amateur draft, and Baseball America’s John Manuel has the full list of what each team can spend on players taken in the first 10 rounds.  The Astros have the highest bonus pool (at a bit more than $17.289MM) in part because they received the second overall selection as compensation for not signing Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick last summer — Houston has both the second and fifth overall picks in the 2015 draft.  As noted earlier today, the 2015-16 international draft pool values were also determined and revealed by Baseball America’s Ben Badler.

Here’s some more from around the game…

  • Huston Street and the Angels haven’t begun yet talks about an extension during Spring Training, he tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link).  Street said he wanted “a week or so to settle in first” at camp and then the two sides would start negotiating.  The closer is known to be looking for a new deal comparable to the contracts signed by David Robertson and Andrew Miller this offseason.
  • The Indians are still interested in adding Dayan Viciedo but only on a minor league contract, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.  Hoynes reported on the Tribe’s interest in Viciedo two weeks ago, though Hoynes felt Viciedo would more likely opt for a team who could offer him a Major League deal and a clearer path to playing time.
  • Melky Cabrera was already intrigued by the White Sox since his wife loves Chicago, though the outfielder wasn’t totally sold until he saw the team’s winter moves, Cabrera told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.  When GM Rick Hahn approached Cabrera earlier in the offseason, he was more skeptical since he wanted to play for a contender.  Cabrera “really wanted to win,” Hahn recalled. “(He said) ‘But with all due respect are you guys really in a position to win and am I really a difference maker for you?’ ”
  • With Michael Saunders sidelined for several months, the Blue Jays are lacking in solid left field replacement options, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes.  Nicholson-Smith lists several internal and external candidates who are flawed (or unlikely to be pursued) for one reason or another.  The PadresWill Venable is cited as perhaps the best trade candidate for the Jays’ LF hole, though even he isn’t a perfect fit.
  • The Mariners are putting a lot of faith in Logan Morrison to be healthy and productive this season, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes, given Morrison’s injury history and Seattle’s lack of depth at the first base position.

Phillies Notes: Papelbon, Hamels, Lee, Cubans, Analytics

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon told reporters today, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, that he was happy to see the news that Francisco Rodriguez had agreed to a two-year deal in Milwaukee. Papelbon described Rodriguez a “talent that needs to be in Major League Baseball.” Asked if he was disappointed that a trade to Milwaukee was seemingly no longer an option, Papelbon said no, but he did have an interesting response when asked if he would be open to playing for the Blue Jays. “Yes, Toronto, interests me — if it interests [GM Ruben Amaro]. I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.” Papelbon said he is more interested in pitching in Toronto than he had been in pitching for Milwaukee, but his ultimate hope is to contend with the Phillies. “My storybook ending here is sneaking into the wild card and getting hot in the playoffs with these Phillies.”

Here are some more Phillies-related items…

  • The Red Sox don’t feel any sense of urgency to trade for Cole Hamels, writes CSN New England’s Sean McAdam. While the team’s reported agreement with Yoan Moncada prompted some speculation that Moncada’s presence made it easier for Boston to trade Mookie Betts, McAdam hears that the Sox are still steadfastly refusing to part with either Betts or Blake Swihart. The Phillies, too, are sticking to their guns, requiring that an acquiring team take on the entirety of Hamels’ salary in addition to parting with premium prospects.
  • Cliff Lee threw eight minutes of live batting practice yesterday, Salisbury writes, marking the first time he’s thrown to hitters since his injury on July 31. He threw primarily fastballs but did snap off a breaking ball to Ben Revere. Lee could throw to hitters again over the weekend, as he’s been throwing every three days, but he’s not likely to pitch in a game until the second week of the schedule. He’ll have many eyes on him as clubs evaluate Lee’s health to determine whether or not he is a viable trade candidate.
  • David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke to Amaro about the team’s pursuit of Moncada and other Cuban talents that have now emerged as regulars, if not stars, at the Major League level. Amaro said that at a certain point, the risk a club takes outweighs the potential reward. “When you know you have an actual major league entity, that’s a known,” said Amaro. “I understand the devaluation as a guy gets older, there’s part of that too, but to me, it’s a risk/reward evaluation process that we go through all the time. Certain clubs have different ways of valuing or putting their dollars into the club and we have a little bit of a different one. Every club is a little bit different.” The Phillies have been involved in the pursuits of Moncada, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jorge Soler, among others. They did sign Cuban righty Miguel Gonzalez in 2013.
  • In a second article, Murphy also looks at the Phillies’ slow entrance to the era of analytics. The Phillies have made some recent hires and are investing more than $1MM in building a computer information system similar to that of the Red Sox, which will serve as a database for scouting reports, medical info and statistical models. Amaro said that while the team has used analytics to its benefit in the past, he’s looking to put more emphasis in the field now and become more creative with their usage of data and statistical trends.

AL East Notes: Steinbrenner, Anthopoulos, Duquette

Let’s take a quick look in at the latest out of the AL East, featuring three front office figures:

  • Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner disputes the notion that there is anything cheap about the way his club does business, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. As for Yoan Moncada, Steinbrenner explained: “For Moncada, that was just how far I was going to go for a player who is 19 years old and at least two years away from the majors with all the uncertainties that can happen with a prospect even that good. It was a hell of an offer. [The bidding] might have ended up at $35MM if I continued to be in it.”
  • Generally, Steinbrenner indicated that he has every expectation of competing this year. “It would be horrible not to make the playoffs three years in a row,” he said. “We’d be embarrassed. So anything [as far as firings or restructuring] would be on the table, yes.” (Bracketed insert via original report.)
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos sat down with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca and covered a variety of topics. We already touched on some of his comments regarding the bullpen, but Anthopoulos also noted that minor league signee Wilton Lopez has a legitimate chance to earn a pen slot, explaining that he had tried to deal for Lopez in the past. Another minor league free agent expected to get a long look is first baseman Daric Barton.
  • The Orioles have dealt away prospects in several notable deals under executive VP Dan Duquette, as Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. Duquette credits the organization’s creation of a deep system for enabling the use of prospects as trade chips when appropriate. Last year’s deal for impact reliever Andrew Miller probably has the highest likelihood of stinging in the long run, with Eduardo Rodriguez trending upwards with the Red Sox. “There is a case of yes, we gave up a really good prospect, but it was required for us to take a shot at the pennant,” said Duquette. At that point of the season, I think you have to roll the dice and see if you can help your team advance.”

Bullpen Notes: Bailey, Coke, Blue Jays

Andrew Bailey decided to stay with the Yankees because he was treated so well last year, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes. The former closer is still working his way back from shoulder surgery in the summer of 2013. “For [the Yankees] to put the time, effort, and investment into myself, I wasn’t going to look anywhere else to go,” said Bailey, who has now tossed five bullpen sessions and hopes to be ready to compete for a job out of camp.

A few more bullpen-related items from around the league…

  • Left-hander Phil Coke is still holding out for a Major League deal in the neighborhood of Craig Breslow‘s one-year, $2MM contract with the Red Sox, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Coke has been connected to a number of clubs, including the Rangers, Marlins, Blue Jays and Royals, over the past two weeks, but the Rangers’ interest has reportedly waned, and Miami is said to be interested only in a minor league deal. Last year, the 32-year-old posted a 3.88 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 58 innings with Detroit. ERA estimators such as FIP (3.98), xFIP (3.79) and SIERA (3.55) felt Coke was at least as good, if not better than that mark would suggest.
  • If the Blue Jays pick up another reliever, it will not be one of the names left on the open market, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. “If we were to add right now, I don’t see it being in free agency,” GM Alex Anthopoulos told Davidi.